For Branden Kaupe, the honors are piling up. For Kalei Hendershot, it is a new feeling.
After standout performances in the Maui Interscholastic League baseball season, Kaupe and Hendershot are the coaches' selections as The Maui News MIL Players of the Year in Division I and Division II, respectively.
Kaupe, a recent graduate of Baldwin High School, is in Port St. Lucie, Fla., at the spring-training facility for the New York Mets, who selected him in the fourth round of last week's Major League Baseball draft - the second-highest selection ever for a Maui County player.
Seabury Hall’s Kalei Hendershot helped his team win a Maui Interscholastic League title this year.
The Maui News / MATTHEW THAYER photo
Last week, he was named an all-state first-teamer as a shortstop, but the bulk of MIL coaches voted for him at second base, where he started the season before spending most of his time at shortstop.
Second base seems to be Kaupe's spot in the professional ranks - he is expected to start there for the Kingsport (Tenn.) Mets in their Appalachian League opener Tuesday.
A month ago, Kaupe and the Bears made their second state championship game in three seasons.
"That is big because we had a good year," Kaupe said Monday before leaving with his family for Florida. "Overall, this year there could have been a lot of guys who could have got the MIL Player of the Year. I am just thankful that I got the MIL Player of the Year."
Kaupe is joined on the D-I first team by Baldwin's Jameson Kahalekai-Bermoy (first base), Rahni Pantorilla (third base), Isaiah Maddela (catcher), Noah Apolo (pitcher), Troy Shishido (pitcher) and Daulton Cabacungan (outfield), Maui High's Mark Karaviotis (shortstop) and Noah Kolish (utility/designated hitter), Kamehameha Maui's Nazareth Thibodeaux (outfield), King Kekaulike's Dylan Rother (outfield) and Lahainaluna's J.R. Kenolio-Dusenberry (utility/DH).
The Bears' Jon Viela is the choice of his peers as D-I Coach of the Year.
Hendershot, a Seabury Hall graduate, will enroll at Willamette University in Salem, Ore., in the fall and plans to play at the NCAA Division III school. He handled every position in the infield for the Spartans, who this year won their first MIL title and participated in a state tournament for the first time.
"It feels good to get recognized by all the coaches," Hendershot said Thursday. "It feels like my hard work is paying off. It was a real fun year, our team, we have such a great team. That is something that we will always have, being the first team to go to states from our school."
Hendershot made the D-II first team as a pitcher. The other Seabury selections were Brandon Crowe (first base), Tyler Gentile (third base), Slayde Omura (shortstop) and Cayde Omura (outfield). Molokai's David Rapanot (pitcher), Ehukai Rawlins (second base), Brayden Willing-McCutcheon (outfield) and Maverick Kaulia-Dela Cruz (outfield), St. Anthony's Jaxson Stinger (utility/DH) and Ryan Apel (outfield) and Lanai's Keo Sanches (catcher) were first-teamers as well.
The Spartans' John Plunkett is the D-II Coach of the Year.
Kaupe is on the MIL first team for a third time after earning a second-team selection in 2009. Hendershot was a second-teamer each of the last two years.
"My high school career just helped me grow from the younger stage, the teenaged stage," Kaupe said. "We always talk about it with my boys and my family, whatever. It went by fast."
The only player from Maui County drafted higher than Kaupe was Kurt Suzuki, by the Oakland Athletics in the second round in 2004.
"I saw him play a couple times and he just has so much talent and so much speed, it's unreal," Hendershot said of Kaupe. "It is pretty cool being a player of the year at the same time."
* Robert Collias is at firstname.lastname@example.org